The Virtues Of Staying Active – An Interview With Scar The Martyr

scar-the-martyrWith Slipknot on the backburner for the foreseeable future, drummer Joey Jordison has had plenty of time on his hands. He used it wisely by writing and demoing a swathe of new music, which wasn’t necessarily suited for his main band. He decided to use it as the basis for his latest musical venture, called Scar The Martyr. Ghost Cult caught up with Slipknot’s ‘#1’ (aka Mr Jordison) to ask him all about his new project, the therapeutic value of staying active, his other musical ventures with Ministry and Satyricon and what the future holds for his main band.

How did Scar The Martyr came about?

It started pretty much a year and a half ago when I went into the studio recording a bunch of material I had written. Some of it was useful for Slipknot, so I demoed a couple of those Slipknot tunes. I kept on writing and I shifted gears completely, so I put the Slipknot stuff away and I focussed on other musical directions. Along the way I wanted to turn this into a project that would be totally different from what I normally do with Slipknot. That’s kind of how the whole thing started.

From a songwriter’s point of view how did it feel to explore a different musical side of you?

It was very liberating for me and that’s exactly the reason why I started Scar The Martyr. I really wanted to do something totally different from Slipknot. What would be the point of starting a side project if it would exactly sound like my main band? I already did the Murderdolls thing, which was fun while it lasted. With Scar The Martyr I wanted to explore a different direction. Those industrial, new wave and post punk influences have always been there, but I never found the right outlet to do something with them. I really like to push the boundaries in the types of music I haven’t done much with and Scar The Martyr is the perfect excuse to do just that. I wanted to experiment a lot, while still maintaining a heavy edge. It’s a great feeling to do something with all those influences that have been hidden and finally turn them loose.

You touch on a lot of different emotions on the album, ranging from quiet acquiescence to unbridled anger and sorrow. To which extent is the material a reflection from all the things you went through the last couple of years?

The last three years have just been crazy. I went through a lot of different emotions because of Paul’s (Gray – Slipknot bassist) untimely passing. I didn’t express those emotions on a record yet, so recording the album was a huge therapy for me in itself. I like to speak through music and I didn’t yet have the chance to release anything since All Hope Is Gone back in 2008. Paul was very much my songwriting partner in Slipknot and Scar The Martyr is the first real music I have done since his death. I had a lot of stuff that needed to get out. I actually had to force myself to stop writing and start recording, because I had committed myself to bring out a record. I still have so much material laying around that I’ll use for a second Scar The Martyr record (laughs).

All the people you worked with on the STM record are seasoned musicians. However, your singer Henry Derek Bonner, is fairly unknown. Who is he and where did you find him?

The thing is that I actually wanted it that way. I wasn’t looking for a known singer because that would pigeonhole the band too much. A singer is very much the icing on the cake, you know. I knew that I’d written some great material, but I really had to find the right guy to pull this off. I found Henry through mutual friends. I called him up and I sent him four songs. He didn’t waste any time and he returned those songs with his vocals on top. When I heard the results I was simply floored. This was just exactly what I was looking for. I tried out a bunch of singers before but I couldn’t find the right guy until Henry came along. I didn’t want to settle for anything less than the perfect guy for the job. I started sending him more and more demos and he sent me some of his own songs as well. Not many people know he plays guitar and he’s a songwriter too. Two of his songs actually ended up on the record. We traded ideas back and forth via the internet and at some point I had him come to Des Moines and put him in the vocal booth and record his vocals. It’s a real pleasure working with Henry, because he can sing his ass off and he is hungry, because he’s brand new. He has that fire and passion. I couldn’t find a better person to front the band.

With the music being so personal and meaning so much to you, was it difficult to let go of the reins so to speak?

Well, the vast majority of the music was already written, but in order to get the best out of Henry, I had to let go of the reins as you said and give him the room to let him do his own thing. I really didn’t want to tell him he should do this or that, I had to make the best use of his musical talent by giving him the room to be himself in a musical sense. I really supported him in the decisions he made for the record and I had his back in the studio to ensure we got the best possible results.

You already toured with Danzig and you’ve got tours with Sepultura and Alice In Chains coming up. What are your thoughts on that?

I haven’t heard the new Sepultura album yet, but I believe it will be awesome. People really have come to terms that Max Cavalera is no longer in the band and Sepultura have really found their groove with Derrick Green so I’m really excited about that. We also have a tour with Alice In Chains and Ghost coming up in the UK. I’ve been an Alice In Chains since the first week Facelift came out. I saw the video for ‘We Die Young’ and I was hooked. Did you actually know there are two versions of that clip? There is this version where they are jamming in a club almost dressed up like a hair metal band, but they’re headbanging all the time. When the whole alternative rock movement came along with all the drugs and shit they changed the video (laughs). I’ve been a fan ever since. Same goes for Sepultura. We just want to get out there and tour as much as we can with Scar The Martyr.

Let’s talk about your other touring ventures with Ministry and Satyricon to name just two. How important is it to you to work and tour with other bands, besides Slipknot?

I toured with Rob Zombie and Korn as well (laughs). It always seems when Slipknot is having some downtime my phone rings the day I get home. I really like to stay busy. The fact that I have the chance to play and tour with such great bands is just incredible. I couldn’t be happier. From touring with Satyricon and Ministry to Korn and Rob Zombie to producing the 3 Inches Of Blood album, I just love helping people and bands out. I love jamming with all these different people, because I feel it really helps me to develop and to become a better musician. Of course I enjoy some downtime, but that only lasts for so long. After a while the itching starts and I need to do something again. It’s just so hard for me to take a vacation (laughs). Music is such an important of me that I really have to seize the day now I have the opportunity. I have so many ideas that if I didn’t do anything with them I wouldn’t be respecting my gift. I keep busy all the time, because that’s what I’m here for.

Many longtime Roadrunner bands, like Devildriver and Soulfly, have left the label due to the major reorganisation the company underwent last year. How do you see things?

You know, it’s terrible. I wish it wasn’t like this, but this is the day and age that we live in. However, metal isn’t going anywhere and it’s not going to die off or anything. It’s just that we need to adapt to new ways to release our music. There are ways of putting out new music no matter what. The bands aren’t going anywhere. The real home is our fans. It isn’t in any tall building or fancy office, there are other ways to get the music out to the people that really need it. The real ‘office’ where our type of music belongs is on the road in front of our fans. The music isn’t going anywhere, it’s just a change of the guards in a way.

Finally, how far do you want to push Scar The Martyr? Do you intend to turn this into a full-blown second career besides Slipknot?

That’s certainly the intent. By no means do I want to scare Slipknot fans, because that band isn’t going anywhere. We’re still playing gigs every year, regardless of what our other bands and projects are doing. We all have our own home studios and we’re writing and exchanging new music. It’s just a matter of how and when we’ll enter the studio and record a new Slipknot album.

Raymond Westland

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